The IMDb Top 250 is a very good list of films that mostly consists of cinematic masterpieces and surprising underdogs (like ‘Diabolique (1955)’ for example). Not every film is one I enjoy, though (or maybe not enough to think of said film as one of the greatest of all time). From a cinematic standpoint, a couple of IMDb’s top films suffer both aesthetically and technically. Before going into the list, it is important to note that many of the films may be ones you hold dear to your heart. They have appeared on this article only because it is based entirely on my personal opinion, which I have reasoned out in my descriptions for each film. Cinema is a subjective medium, and two opinions are rarely alike.
The films presented below are ones I feel get a lot more love than they deserve, and this is because I didn’t enjoy them as much as I wanted to upon watching. This does not mean that any of these films are bad, all it says is that they shouldn’t be part of a list containing 250 of the greatest films of all time – as far as I’m concerned, anyway. With that said, here the 15 most overrated films on the IMDb Top 250 list.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Top 250 Spot: #249
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is a perfectly enjoyable film. I like popping it in when I’m with a couple of friends and consider it to be something of a “popcorn flick”. A spot on the IMDb Top 250 is understandable as a commercial piece, since many people have seen it and its popularity is appreciable, but I feel as though their aggregate has given this film a lot more than it deserves. As a cinematic effort, ‘Guardians’ handles its writing and characters very poorly, even to a point where they get a little annoying. The execution has a couple of pacing-related issues, and though it is funny, it feels unbalanced every now and then. All that being said, the colorful world which the film invites us to is attractive and a lot of fun, but there are many films out there much better than this.
14. Spotlight (2015)
Top 250 Spot: #198
I was quite taken aback when this film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards the year it was nominated, because having seen it prior, I had thought of it as completely out of the equation, despite it being nominated. This film exists to exist. There’s nothing more, and I found it to be as bland as a movie could strive to be. The characters are cardboard cut-outs, who have an outbreak for the sake of having an outbreak, (in a particularly Oscar-baity scene in the film that went on to be the only highlight of the picture for many) and the events are portrayed in such a way that it was as if the filmmakers couldn’t care enough about the situation. Now I’m all for realistic depictions, but the blandness here doesn’t feel authentic at all. On the contrary, it all feels a bit too forced, in my opinion. To me, this felt like a film made only for the purposes of winning a couple Oscars. There’s no meat.
13. The Thing (1982)
Top 250 Spot: #167
There are few films out there that are as universally loved as ‘The Thing’ is. Many people cite it as an influential piece of filmmaking as well as a masterwork of the horror genre. I’ve seen it twice, and both times I was neither terrified of it nor did I consider it worthy of my attention. My main reason for feeling so is because there never really is a protagonist or someone to follow. All the characters are in danger, and any one of them could be the cause of their misery; and so I failed to connect to them on an intimate level. The story, I felt, was poorly handled and circled around cliché territory nearing its third act. There are a couple of clever moments and the special effects are very good, but overall it felt to me like a mess with no direction. It failed to get to me.
12. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Top 250 Spot: #162
Don’t get me wrong here, ‘Gone with the Wind’ is a grand film. It’s something of a mammoth due to its set pieces and sheer massivity. The things I find poorly done here are the acting, the story, the dialogue, and the direction. The characters felt very one-dimensional to me, and their lives weren’t that interesting because they lacked any real sense of being. There are maybe a couple lines in this film that I consider good (including the iconic “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”) but most of it is very dated and unrealistic. Many of the film’s naysayers sight the overt racism as an issue, but I am willing to brush all that off as a by-product of the times. Even then, the film fails to impress after a certain point. Sure, it looks phenomenal, and certain color combinations linger in your head for long, but what is it all worth if there’s nothing to follow and little to care for? It is revolutionary, but as mentioned before it is also dated, and I have seen better films from its era.
11. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Top 250 Spot: #152
There are so many things right with ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, but it has an equal amount of wrongs, because of which I find the final product good and nothing more. It starts off very promising, like most of Martin Scorsese’s pictures, but slowly loses track of its story that it drags and ends up a little uninteresting, as far as I’m concerned. The scene with the run down car and a drunk Jordan Belfort is quite genius, I must say, and that probably is my favorite part of the movie. Apart from Belfort (who seems to be a know-it-all until, as we see time and time again in many films, he understands that he is at fault) most side characters are poorly written, and I can’t stand a couple of them. It is very enjoyable tough, and I underline this part because there isn’t anything to hate about ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. It isn’t one of Scorsese’s best, and it has been hyped to no end.
10. La La Land (2016)
Top 250 Spot: #144
‘La La Land’ tells a very familiar tale, but sports some fascinating colors and compelling cinematography that make it a mesmerizing experience. The problem for me lies with the rest of the execution. Almost everything feels ‘by-the-numbers’ up until the very end of the film, which I thought was beautifully done as it moved me. The build up could’ve been a whole lot better though. It was easy to predict what was going to happen and despite it all looking nice, there was nothing particularly ‘great’ about the picture. Maybe it is to be blamed on the characters who, while charming, lacked realistic emotions because of the poorly done screenplay. As far as a musical is concerned, I didn’t find any of its songs memorable, and they were only a little above average in terms of quality.
9. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Top 250 Spot: #104
I’m not the biggest fan of this movie. I don’t even consider it to be all that good. The film feels very amateurish, and like it tries too hard. Sure, I would’ve considered it to be a great effort from Damon and Affleck, who were just starting to get big in the industry, but this film has gone on to become so overrated, and completely blown over with the praise it gets that I can’t even give it that. I hate the character of Will, and think he’s very shallow and poorly written. There’s no major trace of abuse in a supposedly abused person like him that is visible on the surface. He is smart just because he is smart. There’s nothing about his character that I find pleasing, or like I could relate to or at the least, care for. The late great Robin Williams gives a good performance here, but I’ve never thought of it as great. The famous “inspirational quotes” from this picture also feel to me as though they’re trying way too hard to be culturally relevant. Commendable for first-timers, but not worth a list of this magnitude.
8. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Top 250 Spot: #76
‘Reservoir Dogs’ is a good debut. It is quick paced, with snappy dialogue, and a somewhat interesting premise. What I hated, like I do in many of these pictures, are the characters. They’re so bland – so vanilla – that I didn’t care for a single one of them. Now one could argue that that’s the same route Tarantino went by in ‘Pulp Fiction’, which I consider to be one of the greatest films ever, but the characters were very well rounded there on closer notice, which is why it was so effective. Here, they appear confused, like they don’t know how to interact with their world and situations. You don’t particularly mind anything happening to them, and so the climatic finish is predictable and not very effective. At least, that’s the way it was for me. Like Ebert mentioned in his review, ‘Dogs’ is an “experiment in style”, and it lacks much of that well needed substance. It doesn’t have enough to make the IMDb Top 250 as far as I’m concerned.
7. Dangal (2016)
Top 250 Spot: #71
‘Dangal’ is one of the better Bollywood films that I saw in a while, but that’s not saying much compared to the cinema of the rest of the world. The reason I appreciate this picture is because of the care it has for the world it presents to its audience. I feel as though it was a lot more cerebral than the rest of the trash that the industry generally offers. All that being said, the film tries excessively hard to please the crowd, using cheap tactics and miscalculated execution. The cliché of the lead always being right as well as a model citizen of everything that is pure and true is seen here once again. There’s nothing to fault our protagonist with, and he therefore feels unrealistic. This completely tarnishes the feminist approach that the film claims to have, as the female lead is badly characterized. What’s more, after the above average first half comes the very predictable second with annoying characters and poor storytelling.
6. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Top 250 Spot: #43
After the magnificent masterwork that was ‘The Terminator’ (1984), I was expecting a lot more from the sequel. What I got was a washed down, badly put together piece that tries and fails to mimic its predecessor. The characters are annoying, the story is a confused mess, and the execution is sub-par. This is more in line with a ‘popcorn-flick’, and I wouldn’t mind watching it with a couple of friends for a bit of mindless entertainment, but as a serious film, it completely fails to bring forth the beauty of the original. I also felt like this picture needlessly dragged nearing the third act, and finished with a very lazy ending. It was a completely underwhelming experience for me, and though I will admit to the fact that I found it enjoyable, it is not even a little close to beating the first film. Being so high above the original is just sad for the franchise, in my opinion.
5. The Intouchables (2011)
Top 250 Spot: #37
‘The Intouchables’ is a very basic movie, or it felt to me that way when I first saw it. It is good, but I don’t see anything about it that makes it better than the average feel good film. Although it is based on true events, the characters feel very badly written and not that well performed. The two leads have good chemistry, and it’s not hard to get involved in the storyline. Despite this, the picture is very sappy, and many aspects of it that could’ve gone places aren’t utilized to their fullest. I enjoy this film, but it is utter hogwash (in my opinion) to label it as the 37th greatest film ever made, simply because it would barely make the best 5000, or even more. There’s little to take hone from this film, and it is poorly told in such a way that a lot of it feel unrealistic.
4. Life is Beautiful (1997)
Top 250 Spot: #25
‘Life is Beautiful’ strikes me deep during its final moments, and therefore I can understand where its fans are coming from. Still, it is important to note that there are so many things wrong with the rest of the film. I find the characterization and dialogue extremely irritable and completely unexpected from a film that receives the praise that this one does. Some incidents that occur appear almost hysterical, even when they are supposed to be serious. I don’t wish to bash this film a lot, because when it delivers, it does its part extremely well. I really like this movie, but I wouldn’t include it in a list of this magnitude. If it weren’t for the third act, I probably would’ve considered ‘Life is Beautiful’ to be a below average film, and that leads to my calling it ‘overrated’.
3. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Top 250 Spot: #20
Before I point out this film’s faults, I have to applaud the way it has integrated itself into modern society and culture in such a way that we can no longer imagine life without the existence of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. Still, the first time I saw this picture, I was left thinking, “wait… that’s it?”. Although the universe-building abilities of the film is worth appreciating, it falls prey to many easily guessable film clichés, and has a very weak screenplay. The film is definitely one of the most entertaining ever made, but to rank it higher than space classics like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968) is just completely bonkers, in my honest opinion. I still enjoy all the films in the franchise, but I don’t think mere enjoyment is enough to place a film so high in people’s minds.
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
Top 250 Rating: #4
I love Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker. He knows what his audience wants and he rarely fails to deliver. Most of his pictures are a joy to go to. After really enjoying the masterwork that was ‘Batman Begins’ (2005) I was expecting a lot more from this picture. What I got was a very good-looking movie with one absolutely stunning performance. The film lacked emotion, and though people may argue that that’s a given when it comes to Batman films, this actually pulls me back from the experience. The action scenes are great, and there are some brilliantly directed moments in there, but I found myself always waiting for the Joker to come up. While I wouldn’t normally count that as an issue, for a film that is considered to be a modern artwork, it just disappoints me that the rest of the picture fails to live up to those scenes. ‘The Dark Knight’ is a perfectly enjoyable film, and it is very memorable. It just isn’t as good as it is brought out to be.
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Top 250 Rating: #1
I really like ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. It is a very good film that is well told. Unfortunately, I have never thought of it as something of a masterpiece, which is what its ranking on this list claims it to be – the greatest film of all time, in fact. While being a fascinating feature, I feel as though this picture tries a little too hard to make its audience care about the subject matter, and often times this feels a little forced to me. The third act is predictable and lacks emotional weight, which leads me to calling it the worst part of the movie. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is able to move me, and it is able to make me feel, but the problems it has are ones I feel affect the craft with which it has been created, and so I find lots of other films miles ahead of this one.